Fifty-two percent of consumers today eat a diet that excludes or limits consumption of some foods or ingredients.
Antibiotics/hormones are the most common ingredients avoided (64%) followed by artificial additives such as flavours and preservatives (62%) and sugar sweeteners (59%). Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and genetically-modified organisms also feature in the five most avoided.
Over one in four (27%) households contain someone who suffers from food allergies or intolerances although this is much lower than the global average (36%). The most common ingredients avoided in Ireland for these reasons are eggs and lactose/diary (both 47%), poultry (30%), gluten (28%) and grains (25%).
Sales of ‘Free From’ products rose 23% in Ireland last year, based on data to 4th October 2015, making it a market worth €73 million according to Nielsen.
If it has continued at this rate over the past year, it would be worth nearly €90 million in the year to the end of last October, assuming all other factors remained equal.
“It’s one of the fastest-growing categories and consequently supermarkets are extending ranges,” notes Matt Clark, Nielsen’s Commercial Director in Ireland.
He goes on to point out four “macro-trends” driving people to pay more attention to what they consume:
“People are adopting a more back-to-basics mindset” he explains, “focusing on simple ingredients and fewer processed foods; they’re also taking a more active role in their own health care which includes better nutrition, itself a reflection of the rising trend in chronic-disease rates. Finally, consumers are increasingly educated due to the internet providing access to more health information than could ever have been dreamed of in the past.”